FBCS kicks off new year

Published 9:37 pm Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Michelle Malven teaches world history to ninth- and 10th-graders during the first day of the new school year at First Baptist Christian School Thursday. Malven said it was exciting to be back in the classroom, but that teachers need the summer break.

It may be a lot smaller than its public counterparts in Suffolk, but First Baptist Christian School started the new school year with some not insignificant changes Thursday.

At the parochial school’s grades six to 12 campus on Godwin Boulevard, the scholarly murmur of mostly bright-eyed students and teachers could be heard from the single corridor.

Principal Tamra VanDorn said that enrollment for the entire school, including the elementary campus on Main Street, is about 180 students.

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The high school has moved to block scheduling, she said, and students will have to get used to even and odd days.

“It’s new to them,” she said. “Students are anxious and exited to see how that works.”

This year, students will also be adjusting to new classes, VanDorn said, including Advanced Placement calculus and biology.

The fine arts curriculum has been expanded, with music, art appreciation, computers, Spanish, public speaking, economics and finance, consumer science and drama set to expand horizons.

In terms of staff changes, kindergarten has a new part-time teacher, and for the high school, three teachers are returning and four teachers will be new, VanDorn said.

Fifty percent of teachers have master’s degrees, and “all are experienced staff,” she said.

“They came in for a week of inservice and had technology training and learned about the policies.

“They were just so excited to see one another (and) glad to see the new year start.”

In perhaps the biggest change coming to First Baptists Christian School in 2012-2013, it will become incorporated in January, VanDorn said.

While the school has been supported by First Baptist Church alone, “Other local churches are going to all merge together to be on one board,” she said.

“So we will have several churches supporting us instead of one running the school board. We’re really excited about it.”

Which churches will be involved is still being decided by the churches themselves, she said.

Another change planned for this year is a fine arts night, VanDorn said, allowing students to display their creations.

Michelle Malven teaches “a variety” of classes from grades eight to 12. Thursday morning, she was teaching world history to a composite class of ninth- and 10th-graders.

“It’s always exciting” to return after the summer, she said, but “we need the break. We love to come back, but we need the break.”